Neighbors ran this photo last year. Kimberly Paulson-Schulman, formerly of Fargo and now of Burbank, Calif., found it in a resale shop in Burbank, saw it was framed in Fargo and sent it to Neighbors, hoping someone could identify the people in it and tell of the occasion on which it was taken.
Several replies came in.
Karl Altenburg, Fargo, said the men appear to be mostly Merchant Marines.
“None of their shoulder boards have stars, which is typical of a Navy line officer,” Karl wrote. “Rather, it looks like they have fouled anchors and wreaths on their shoulder boards.
“Also the badge on their caps look more like a Merchant Marine badge than one from the Navy. So what looks like a few Naval Academy midshipmen are likely Merchant Marine midshipmen.
“It’s interesting there is a U.S. Army Infantry officer in the photo,” Karl said. “He appears to be a captain, and he is wearing a Sam Browne sword belt, which I believe was uncommon after the start of World War II.”
Karl added that the Merchant Marine Academy began training in 1938.
Kirby Brier, Des Moines, Iowa, wrote, “The man in the white cap, back row, right side, behind the man in the Army uniform, bears a real resemblance to my dad, Howard Brier.
“Dad grew up in Bismarck and was in the hotel business in Devils Lake, N.D., and (possibly) Jamestown, N.D., when WWII broke out. He joined the Navy, was a Seabee and attained the rank of steward chief petty officer.
“I have not seen this photo before,” Kirby said, “but my dad was not a real big guy, similar to the man in the photo, and I have seen photos of him with his Navy headgear cocked the same way this man’s cap is cocked.
“Dad served in the South Pacific, so that’s possibly a connection to this being found in California.”
Mark Ellwanger, who, with his wife Kathy, split their time between Moorhead and Tomball, Texas, posted the picture on a Facebook site and asked if anyone could provide information about it.
He received a reply from a former sailor, Hugh Doyle, who didn’t give his address. He didn’t identify anyone in the photo, but gave Mark some information about what they represented.
“The ship is definitely a merchant/cargo ship (see the king posts and cargo booms in the background),” Hugh wrote.
“The time frame is probably late WWII or immediately post-war, or perhaps the Korean War, by the looks of the Army officer’s uniform.
“My dad (may he rest in peace) was a WWII and Korean War Army officer and he wore that uniform back then — green brown (called olive drab) jacket and light khaki trousers that he derisively referred to as ‘pinks.’
“The Coast Guard officer probably was a faculty member, as the U.S. Coast Guard administered the merchant licensing system for deck officers and engineer.
“The foreign personnel are probably Royal Navy and are probably exchange instructors teaching Atlantic convoy procedures.
“The U.S. Army officer is probably a faculty member teaching combat cargo loading of tanks, trucks, Jeeps and other war material on merchant ships.
“I would look at the Merchant Marine Academy at King’s Point, N.Y., or any of the East Coast state Merchant Marine academies (in Maine, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and others) as the site of the picture. My guess is King’s Point.
“By the way,” Hugh wrote Mark, “the officer on the far left, middle row, has a different cap device (crossed anchors?) and no shoulder boards. Warrant officer?”
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